All suites hotel with rooftop sky bar planned for downtown San Diego
A 16-story all-suites hotel capped off with a rooftop “sky” bar and pool deck has been proposed for downtown San Diego, located just west of the former El Cortez hotel.
Fifth & Ash Suites, named for its location on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Ash Street, is being developed by San Diego-based Narven Enterprises, which is nearing completion of a 98-room TownePlace Suites hotel a little more than a block away.
While the project still needs formal approval, it was generally warmly received Wednesday during a design review committee meeting of Civic San Diego, the city’s downtown development arm.
The hotel, although planned for a relatively small lot — 10,000 square feet — seems to be a good fit for the site, some board members said. The site is currently occupied by a surface parking lot and is surrounded largely by low- and mid-rise buildings.
One board member suggested that the project architect consider incorporating a second entrance to the hotel somewhere on Ash, while recognizing that it will be challenging given the steep slope of the street.
Another committee member, Maddy Kilkenny, said the hotel design, at first blush, felt imposing, in part, because of the building’s lower level glass facade.
The 156-room hotel has been designed as all suites, about 300 to 350 square feet in size, and will include a restaurant that will serve not only the guests but also the neighborhood.
The top of the structure will feature a split-level roof deck, with the western area on the 15th floor designed as a bar and lounge area and the eastern part of the roof on the 16th floor reserved for a pool deck.
No decision has been made yet on whether the hotel will be independently operated or affiliated with an existing hotel brand. The developer expects nightly room rates, in today’s dollars, would be between $229 and $289.
Narven, which has owned the site since 2015, is hoping to have the project approved by March or April, with a year-long design process to follow. If all goes well, construction could start early next year, with the hotel ready to open by 2020, said Narven Chief Operating Officer Michael Nguyen.
The company was attracted to the site because of its proximity to the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy and the downtown core, Nguyen said.
The project, estimated to cost from $55 million to $60 million, is being planned at a time when San Diego County has been experiencing something of a hotel development boom, with more than 2,800 hotel rooms under construction as of the end of last year. There are thousands more in the planning pipeline, although not all of those will come to fruition.
Nguyen says downtown San Diego is far from oversaturated.
“We think the market in San Diego for hotels is still going strong,” he said. “The main reason is the climate and the conventions coming here. We know that San Diego is one of the top 10 vacation destinations. Every time you see a tornado or hurricane or flash flooding somewhere, that’s actually advertising for San Diego.
“We do feel sympathy for the people affected by these disasters but they are a strong message for San Diego as a destination.
Narven is preparing to open in April its TownePlace Suites, a $30 million development located at 1445 Sixth Avenue.
It will include a full service bar, 24-hour market and 1,300-square-foot fitness center.
Collin Kallman, vice president of sales for Narvin, noted that mid-tier hotels in the range fo 3-½ to 4 stars are growing in popularity for downtown San Diego.
The high-end Pendry hotel opened a year ago in the Gaslamp Quarter, and the 400-room InterContinental hotel, also a luxury property, is due to open later this year on the waterfront. At the same time, though, a number of mid-scale hotels also have opened in recent years, among them the dual-branded SpringHill Suites and a 147-room Residence Inn by Marriott on the northern portion of Lane Field.
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